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Feature Article: The Feminine nature of Stress

‘Stress’ is a common word used in our society, especially in the workplace! Forget “fight or flight” as the only duo of responses in the face of stress. For women, there’s a third response: “befriend.” A landmark UCLA study turned five decades of stress research on its head with the revelation that a cascade of brain chemicals gives women a larger behavioural repertoire when confronted with stress. The hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress response in women. It controls the fight/flight response and, instead, encourages women to tend children and gather with other women.

Accordingly to co-researcher Dr. Laura Cousino Klein, now assistant professor of bio-behavioural health at Penn State, the study suggests that this “tending and befriending” response to oxytocin produces a calming effect. Although it will take new studies to reveal all the ways in which oxytocin encourages women to care for children and band together, it might also explain why women consistently outlive men.
The famed ‘Nurses Health Study’ from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends people have, they less likely they are to develop physical ailments and the more likely they are to cope better with challenges. This can also thus be expected in the workplace too – where women band together in the face of challenges; to bring colleagues together to resolve a situation.

Sadly, today’s pressures at work and home often find women cancelling the most positive and healthy thing they can do: gathering with other women to engage in the kind of “rapport” and “report” talk that hallmark feminine conversations.


Corporate women’s networking organisations allow for the nuts-and-bolts training needed for business development while also creating plenty of opportunity for mentoring, problem-solving and the informal sharing of personal issues, which women are so great at. This is why I am a member of Athena (a networking organisation for professional women).
It has broadened my knowledge of how to expand my business and introduced me to many other amazing business women, one of whom is Awele odeh, Director, The Work Stress Buster, who organises workshops which help women in the workplace.

So when we gather as women, let’s stand back and acknowledge the energy reborn from conversation, caring, compassion, and concern. This energy changes lives and moves a community, a business, a workplace and a nation into a higher place.

Author: Heather Prince, Healer and Holistic Therapist helps women reach their full potential. Heather also teaches meditation and relaxation. On 10th May, 2012 she has organised a Retreat, for women, to Cae Mabon, a magical place near Snowdon in Wales.

To find out about this and other inspiring ways Heather can help you manage stress, sign up to her blog or visit her website. Consultations are available in person or remotely via email.

For further information on how The Work Stress Buster supports organisations and individuals, please do get in touch.

photo credit: <a href=”″>Students golfers with their teacher in Tallahassee</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

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